When the news broke in July 2019 that Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi had died, a ripple of shock ran through London. As the city the 39-year-old designer called home, the British capital was well used to Al Qasimi’s unique take on menswear, and where he had shown his eponymous collections since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2008.
To lose the founder and driving force is difficult for any label, but for a small brand such as Qasimi it might have proved the end. However, despite having no formal training in fashion, his twin sister Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi took over a few months later. Now, for the first time since the designer's death, the label is back showing at London Fashion Week Men's, with a poignant and elegant show.
Qasimi the label has always been about relaxed style, and under the careful hand of Sheikha Hoor and head of design Adam Rice, the show delivered in London for autumn / winter 2020 was once again filled with nonchalant luxury.
Tailoring came in the form of a loose-cut, double-breasted velvet suits in deep burgundy, and decadent mustard trench coats. Inky green leather was cut into sleeveless tunics and glossy coats, as more suits swept past in smoky greys and double-fronted cashmeres. Tortoiseshell appeared as all-in-ones for women and as semi-transparent raincoats for men. Streetwear touches crept in as polo shirts, and long-sleeved technical tops worn with tailored trousers, while elements of homeyness appeared with blanket stitched seams on knitwear and reassuring twill overcoats.
However, the overwhelming feeling was one of absence, with deeply personal touches scattered throughout the collection. Tops were printed with "Rise From The Darkness", and suits and jackets carried labels on cuffs that read "Renewel + Rebirth + Immortality", as a stark reminder that behind it all is a grieving sister. Embroidered inside some clothes and across the back of others was a golden setting sun with the words "Every Sun Has To Set" in English and in Arabic.
Sad, sophisticated and richly beautiful, this collection proves that Sheikha Hoor, like Donatella at Versace before her, is unashamed of reminiscing on what has been lost, while resolutely moving forward. Sheikh Khalid would be proud.